Exercise and the LSAT

Noah Teitelbaum —  July 2, 2010 — Leave a comment

Go Little Blue Man, Go!

Summer is here and it’s time to get off your butt and start studying for the October LSAT. But, it’s also time to get off your butt in general. It’s now fact (until proven otherwise) that exercise improves brain function! I first read about this in The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge – a mind-blowing book. When he discussed the exercise-brain link, Doidge was a bit more focused on preventing Alzheimer’s disease. But, now I’ve read in Science Daily that it’s also true for the pre-geriatric crowd.

Charles Hillman, the brainiac behind the study, says that “regardless,” he said, “the importance is the same. Physical activity is related to better cognitive health and effective functioning across the lifespan.”

Another study, as reported in Entrepreneur explained:

1. As you exercise, your muscles contract.
2. This releases chemicals, including a protein called IGF-1.
3. IGF-1 travels to the brain and stimulates the release of several chemicals, including brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).
4. Regular exercise increases levels of BDNF.
5. BDNF stimulates neurons (brain cells) to branch and connect in new ways.
6. New junctions between neurons are the basis of learning.

(Why exactly is Entrepreneur reporting on this? I guess the same reason I am…)

Boom! And this is at the heart of getting truly better at the LSAT. Since most of us were not born holding a golden gavel (i.e. thinking like a lawyer), going beyond the usual LSAT score increases means switching from the B.S.-production-write-a-10-page-paper-about-what-YOU-think mindset that we develop in high school & college to the legalistic mindset that is needed to be, well, legalistic. A few new neural pathways could definitely help!

So, the daily 12-hour LSAT study marathon may not be such a great idea this summer- instead, do a 6 hour LSAT marathon, then an actual marathon, and then another 6 hour marathon. Well…maybe just a half-marathon. Actually, you probably should limit your study sessions to a few hours – the brain needs a break, and a jog.

Noah Teitelbaum

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Noah Teitelbaum is the Executive Director of Academics for Manhattan Prep. He has co-authored the Manhattan LSAT Strategy Guides, has trained many of the MLSAT teachers, and has worked in public and private education for over 10 years. He lives in Denver, without the dog that is required of most Colorado residents, but with a wife and kid.

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